Why do children throughout the ages love hide and seek? I propose that there are a number of reasons that both hiding and seeking are thrilling for children. First, children hide because they want to know that they can go out and explore. They want to know that they can be fine on their own. They want a sense of autonomy. However, soon after the child feels the joys of exploring, he gets lonely and so he wants to be reassured that his friend wants to find him. This is life affirming. To be pursued is to be loved. The joy of being found is the joy of being alive and feeling cared for. This is the second reason why this game is so popular.
Third, the game of hide and seek brings together children and adults into the sandbox of play. There is a shared mission to alternate exploring and being discovered. The moments of suspense, when one person looks for another adds to the tension which then leads to the excitement of coming together. Fourth, hide and seek reassures children that people in relationships can separate and they can come back together. This dance between separation and reunification is endlessly reassuring because it reminds the child that separations can be temporary and therefore sustainable. Further, it reinforces the tremendous joy in the reunion since there is always fear that coming together will not happen.